“Ecate: the path of desire”, exhibition by the sculptor Stefania Pennacchio in the archaeological park of Naxos


By John

Is titled “Hekate: the path of desire” and it is the sculptor's exhibition Stefania Pennacchio set up from 14 June to 30 October 2024 in Naxos archaeological park: six large works dot the site of the first Greek colony in Sicily, evoking one of the archetypes of Hecate, a goddess capable of giving rise to desires and instilling the strength necessary to realize them.

A project, that of the “Hecate” exhibition, which includes a relational art experience involving visitors in rediscovering their dreams, giving them substance and symbolically entrusting them to the goddess. Born from an idea of ​​the artist and the director of the Naxos Taormina Archaeological Park, the archaeologist Gabriella Tiganothe exhibition is curated by Angelo Crespi, General Director of the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. It opens on Friday 14 June, at 6.30 pm.

The exhibition

Whether it is clay expressed according to the Japanese raku technique, or – as in this case – semire, a coarse-grained refractory ceramic mixture, Stefania Pennacchio is an artist whose production is marked by continuous experimentation: a personal and recognizable style, expressed through the use of clay and bronze. “An aesthetic figure that appeals to her entire Mediterranean existence expressed in a decisive and feminine voice”, explains Jean Blanchaert, art critic and artist, co-curator with Philippe Daverio in 2010 in Berlin of his exhibition “Ananke – Dei ed heroes between Scylla and Charybdis”, held at the Italian Cultural Institute. While Vassilis Vassiliades, curator of the Larnaca Biennial, (Cyprus, 2021) described it like this: “When Stefania Pennacchio touches the clay, she listens to the memories of her land which with small imperceptible vibrations resurface on the surface, like the girls' prayer of the temple, like the call to the unknown visitor (…) Try to intervene as little as possible. She remains focused on the true mission of the artist that, during the creative act, she is actually revealing what already exists”.

For Naxos, Pennacchio has imagined a shared path with visitors who, by scanning the QR Codes, will be able to interact with the six large sculptures scattered along the archaeological area. One of these, in particular, will recall a religious tradition of the ancient inhabitants of Naxos. In fact, it will be located right at the crossroads of one of the main streets (platèia B) of the polis, in correspondence with the quadrangular bases in lava basalt from Etna which, perhaps, were altars where every day – as still happens today in the historic centers of cities and villages throughout Italy – citizens honored the divinities with votive offerings.

Pennacchio herself explains the ritual that awaits visitors to the Naxos Park, who developed the project with the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Andrea Rapisarda: “Along the route of the ancient polis there will be eight questions, accessible by scanning a QRcode and which will help visitors to get in touch with the personal source of their desires”. The experience will end with the sculpture “Great spinning top of Hecate” which will collect the wishes of all those who want to leave a trace of it.

Goddess who protects – and from whom one can protect oneself – Hecate was perceived as a mysterious divinity, both benevolent and cruel towards mortals. This is how scholars of Greek culture describe it. A further challenge for the artist, as the curator underlines: “I have always been intrigued – explains Angelo Crespi – by the idea that the word “desire” is etymologically similar to the term “disaster”, almost as if the fall of the stars was in the same a time of yearning but also of fear. Hecate is the goddess who represents this dual feeling. And I can't find a better way for an attentive contemporary artist like Stefania to engage with archaeology, in a mixture of reverence and complicity”.

A nocturnal event is dedicated to the exhibition, on 10 August, with “The Night of Ècate”: a visit under the stars with the soundtrack of ancient Greek verses and instruments by the musicologist and lyricist Rosa Fragorapti and the visual installations of Giuseppe La Spada, photographer and director who has always focused on the relationship between man and nature. For the occasion, with the participation of the curator, the exhibition catalog will also be presented.